Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pilot FriXion Color Pencil-Like: Aquamarine 0.7 mm

This pen was on my first order at JetPens. I've had it for about a month and I haven't reviewed almost anything from there! So to start off...

(The pen's a lot more blue than in the picture. Sorry the quality's bad.)

The Color Pencil-Like line of FriXions was supposed to resemble a wooden pencil with erasable ink. Unlike the other FriXions, Pilot got it right and put the eraser on the cap instead of the butt of the pen. The body of the pen is supposed to resemble a wooden pencil.

I'm very fond of the dark, almost blue-black aquamarine ink. The ink is much richer and darker than the original FriXions, not to mention it glides on the page. It erases easily and cleanly. In my opinion, this is a huge improvement from the original FriXions. All in all, these pens are great for note-taking. In fact, this pen is part of my current 'A-Team'! =D

So to recap...

Pros: Much better than the original FriXions
-Rich, dark ink
-Erases cleanly
-Eraser's on the right end of the pen for once!

Cons: Takes a few seconds for the ink to dry

Overall, I give this pen a 9.6/10/!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pilot G-2: 0.38 mm

One day, my former Biology teacher asked us all if we had a favourite pen to write with. He liked to write with a fountain pen, though he didn't correct papers with it. I asked this to myself later that day and figured the Pilot G-2 was my favourite. Little did I know, those were the only pens I had along with a few dried-out Gelly Roll pens. In fact, the G-2 was the gateway pen to my addiction. I was fond of its dark ink, how it was cheap, found everywhere, and how it never failed on me. The rest is history...that and I'll tell more on another day.

This pen is one of the most widely-used pens in America. Known for its consistent ink flow and its cheap price, it's no wonder this pen is so popular. Most people have used the 0.5 mm and the 0.7 mm, but one of the finer tips –the 0.38 mm– hasn't had much of a chance to shine in the spotlight of office pen cups everywhere. In fact, I always thought the 0.38 mm was available only in Japan until now! I've been using the 0.5 mm version, but let's give the finer points in life a chance. No pun intended.

First of all, the body of this pen is quite basic. Grip, clip, plunger (that thing on the top of the pen you push), pen refill, etc. The clip is printed with "PILOT G-2 0.38." Going to the pen refill, there's a sickly yellow liquid that looks like concentrated urine sitting atop the black ink. Why, why, why does it have to be that colour? Why couldn't it be clear like the other colours? Then again, it brings a bit of...colour to the black pen...I guess.

The pen is scratchier than most 0.38 mm pens, but I guess that's what you get when you have a thin roller-ball pen. The ink flow is consistent and produces a nice, dark, fine line. There's no problems with skipping or the ink clotting on the tip.

So to recap...

Pros: Great quality for its price, produces fine, dark lines
Cons: Sickly yellow liquid in the refill, tip is slightly scratchy
Costs: $1.80 at Jetpens

Overall, I give this pen a 9.3/10.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Uni-Ball Alpha Gel Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

What do you get when you mix awesome with awesome? You get an EPIC WIN!!! And that's what the Uni-Ball Alpha Gel Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil is! (Try saying that five times fast...) This pencil is the lovechild combination of the Alpha Gel and the Kuru Toga models. Uni-Ball was smart and combined two great pencils into one. Actually, if you compare this with the two, you can even tell which parts of the pencil were taken from which model!

First things first, the design of this pencil is a hybrid of the Kuru Toga, Alpha Gel, and the Dr. Grip (despite the fact Dr. Grip is made by Pilot). This pencil is entirely made of plastic, which was probably a trait carried over from the Kuru Toga line. Then we move down to the grip, which isn't as squishy as the Alpha Gel models (probably lacking a chromosome?). The grip feels nearly like a Dr. Grip...grip but squishier. In fact, the upper body seems like a trait carried over by the Dr. Grip as well! You could unscrew the top to reveal an outer barrel and an inner body (the colored part). The clip eerily looks like the Dr. Grip's clip too. The only thing missing to strengthen the similarities is the shaker... Then again, it could all be a coincidence.

Moving back to the Kuru Toga, like in the high-grade series, shows the symbol that displays the Kuru Toga engine in action. As you write, the engine moves to keep the pencil tip sharp, and when the symbol shows orange, it indicates the full rotation of the engine. The eraser cap has the same symbol as the cap on the KT pencils. The tip is not retractable. It extends outward when you press the top, but it does not affect writing or gripping it, as far as I'm concerned.

As far as writing goes, the KT engine keeps the tip sharp and produces a fine line compared to regular pencils. When compared to a regular pencil, the regular pencil shows thicker lines than the KT pencils as shown above. The pencil is relatively lightweight and weighs similar to the original KT pencils than most of the Alpha Gel pencils. One concern was if you didn't screw the silver top tight enough, the transparent barrel could be left spinning around as you write.

So to recap...

Pros: Two great concepts rolled into one
Costs: $12.75 at Jetpens

Overall, I give this a 10/10!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Uni-Ball Fanthom: Purple

...And do I dream again? For now I find... The FAAAAAAAANTHOM OF THE OPER--okay, I'll stop. From the horrible singing, you might have guessed that what I'm reviewing today is the Uni-Ball Fanthom. Here it seems like Uni-Ball is trying to compete with Pilot in the erasable pens market. In the earlier days, erasable pens weren't so great. The eraser was like any mechanical pencil eraser, the ink would leave some kind of remnants, smear, and the eraser would leave gunk all over the table. Now, erasable pens have improved and the FriXion pens (which I plan to review soon) were one of the first and popular erasable pens on the Japanese and American market. Uni-Ball decided to compete in the market and thus the Fanthom is born!

First things first, the pen has semi-torpedo design, since the the erasing mechanism is in the cap (something the FriXion lacks). It takes a bit of strength to take off the cap, but you can put it on top of the pen, so when you write, you can flip it over to erase. In the functionality of the design, the Fanthom wins this round. There's no grip to this, but it has a total of 24 ovals engraved into it to attempt mimicking one. This part of the pen feels slightly slippery when held. One major note is that the pen side and the barrel can be easily unscrewed, especially while writing – a major downside.

As far as the ink goes, it looks like watercolours. For the purple, I'd say it looks like a dark lavender. The ink takes a few seconds to dry. I wouldn't suggest trying to erase while the ink is still wet. When erased, you can see most of what has been erased quite clearly. If you erase a particular area a lot, that area becomes "glossed" up. (But I assume this is a problem with most erasable pens) Even then, you can still see clearly what you erased. The tip of the pen cap is used as the eraser. The tip doesn't make such a great excuse for an eraser. As I said earlier, it tends to gloss up the area and you can see what you erased clearly. When the tip is erased with frequently, it starts to dull down. It wears down where you erased with. I assume that as I erase with this, it will get so dull it'll look like the tip never existed. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the dents made on the cap.

So to recap...

Pros: Next best erasable pen next to FriXion, ink is somewhat dark
Cons: Can still see erased area clearly, tip of the pen cap dents as it's erased with, may dent paper, pen tip and body unscrew easily
Costs: $3.00 at Jetpens

Overall, I give this pen an 84%, or a B.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marvy Le Pen: Burgundy

These pens have been around for more than a quarter of a century, yet I've never heard of these! I saw these at a local office supply discount store (a discount store? To fuel a pen addiction? SWEET!), and the first thing I noticed was how thin these pens are. I was attracted to the fact that it was a felt-tipped pen for a reasonable price. Felt-tipped pens usually go for $2-$3 a pop, but these went for $1.39. (Maybe it's the fact it was a discount store, but whatever.) I picked up a burgundy version of the pen. Below are the lyrics to "Maybe Tomorrow" by Stereophonics written with the pen.

This pen is about 7 mm in width and stands 14 cm tall. Overall it's a pretty thin pen. This seems like a minimalist pen – no grip, thin, not many bells and whistles, metal clip, and the such...not saying it's bad. There's a metal clip on the cap that seems sturdy to clip on books, papers, etc. Engraved are the words "Le Pen Marvy Japan" in silver.

The felt tip is .3 mm, but it writes a bit bigger than that. The ink comes out a nice wine red and writes quite well. It sort of scratches a bit on the paper, but that might be the felt. Also, the tip seems a bit fragile and slightly bends in the direction I'm writing.

This pen would be good for doodling or taking notes with. This isn't something I would use to write out my homework. (Then again, most of that is done on the computer nowadays...)

So to recap...

Good: Minimalistic, rich colour, sturdy metal clip, cheap
Bad: Tip scratches slightly, fragile; likely to crush
Costs: $0.50-$2.00

I give this pen...

a B+!